early September we joyfully welcomed 31 new faculty and staff and
155 new students to the Conservatory, but scarcely a week into the
semester the havoc and horror of September 11 burst into our lives.
Our hearts and minds were dominated by the unfolding calamity. Few
of us had any previous experience to guide us. It was a tribute
to the Oberlin spirit that through tragedy we discovered anew the
value of shared community, to which we returned, day by day and
hour by hour, for affirmation and consolation.
Just two weeks later we came together for two concerts inaugurating
the new C.B. Fisk organ in Finney Chapel. Broadcast live-to-air
by WCLV-FM, a Cleveland-based classical music station, to thousands
of Northeast Ohio listeners and to the world via the WCLV web site,
the concerts were a heartening confluence of the musical forces
of Oberlin, the Oberlin College community, and Oberlin alumni (Alumni
Council had its annual meeting that weekend). It was a celebration
not only of a magnificent new instrument, but also of the shared
values that bind the Oberlin community and of what we can accomplish
together. It was, as well, an opportunity to confer an honorary
degree upon Professor Fenner Douglass '42 in recognition of his
distinguished contributions to the study of organ at Oberlin and
around the world.
In this issue of Oberlin Conservatory, we bring you some
of what we experienced on campus. Our own Marci Janas '91 gathered
the thoughts of several faculty members, students, and alumni about
the role of music in helping us cope with trauma and express emotion
that often cannot find words. We also try here to give you a sense
of the spectacular C.B. Fisk organ. For those of you who could not
join us in September, music writer Scott Cantrell and several professional
organists who tried their hands during the weekend's celebration
weigh in with their thoughts.
For me, the extraordinary contrasts in September underscore the
importance of reaffirming for each generation of students our traditional
devotions to liberal learning, intellectual rigor, artistic excellence,
and social engagement so uniquely embodied by Oberlin. More than
ever in our lives, it would seem the future depends upon us, upon
our commitment to carry the burden of these values, to persevere.
Robert K. Dodson